Belur Math

Belur Math- The Abode of Peace

Belur Math has always been one of my favourite spots near Kolkata, where I love to spend at least a piece of my weekend. It is really awesome to be amidst a surreal environment, far from the honking horns and dust filled air of the metropolitan. If you also want to find out yourself, removing all the tension of daily life, just be at Belur Math.

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The Main Temple

As River Ganges flows through the heart of Kolkata, several shrines have developed at its bank to enhance the divinity of the place with the touch of the holy waters. Belur Math is another religious centre of India, located at the Howrah district of West Bengal. Established by Swami Vivekananda in 1898, this place is visited by people from all walks of life, just not for pilgrimage but also to experience some soulful moments, far from the maddening crowd of city life.

The 40 acres of sprawling land is dotted with several temples; dedicated to Lord Ramakrishna, Ma Sarada and Swami Vivekananda. There are monasteries for the disciples of the Ramakrishna Movement and a children’s home, known as Sister Nivedita Children’s Home. The main temple of the place worships Ramakrishna Paramhansa, this is the site where Swami Vivekananda worshipped the urns of Ramakrishna; it is said that Swami Vivekananda carried the urns on his shoulder to the place.

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Blossoms in Full Bloom

You can spend a whole day here, strolling through the green meadows, listening to the joyous chirps of birds or relaxing at the banks of River Ganges, listening to its ripples. You can also enjoy a pleasant boat ride over the river, which takes you to another popular pilgrimage of West Bengal, the Dakhineshwar Kali Temple. This is where Ramakrishna used to worship Ma Kali as a priest. There are boats at regular intervals till 8.00 pm in the evening which take you to and fro Belur Math and Dakhineshwar Temple.

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River Ganges at Dusk

Another attraction of the place is its museum. There are relics and paintings depicting various phases of life of Ramakrishn, Ma Sarada and Swami Vivekananda. The shopping arcade consists of photos of various Hindu gods and goddesses, books on the Ramakrishna Movement, preaches of various philosophers and story books based on Indian mythology.

Devotees gather here at afternoon to have the ‘bhog.’ This simple meal is just not a lunch with people but a way of life of love and togetherness. Last but not the least; the evening aarti rejuvenates you. The aarti starts at 6.00 pm in winter and 6.30 pm in summer. Devotees gather at the main temple to witness the aarti. The soulful music and melodious hymns sung by the monks; known as ‘Brahma Sangit,’ relieves you from all stress.

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The Swami Vivekananda Temple

Are you looking for a different kind of Durga Puja celebration this year? Be at Belur Math. The Math is known for its unique Durga Puja rituals, which also includes the Kumari Puja. The Math also celebrates Saraswati Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, Shivaratri, birthdays of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Ma Sarada, Jesus Christ, Sri Krishna and Lord Chaitanya.

Durga Puja at Belur Math
Durga Puja at Belur Math

If you want to engage in some charitable work, Belur Math is one of the best places to do so. The Math is engaged in rehabilitation and relief work and also has its own charitable dispensary.

Hence take your time out this weekend to spend some time of solace at Belur Math.

Rediscover spirituality within simplicity at Kamarpukur and Jairambati

Ramakrishna Paramhansa, known as the Prophet of Modern Age and his wife and spiritual counterpart, Ma Sarada are known to bring renaissance to the religious life of the common men. With their simplistic lifestyle and preaching in lucid language, these nineteenth century mystics rule the hearts of masses till date. Ramakrishna Mission runs on the preaching of Lord Ramakrishna and Ma Sarada and is engaged in various social services.

The Divine Duo
The Divine Duo

A pilgrimage to Kamarpukur

Kamarpukur is the birthplace of Lord Ramakrishna, located at the Hooghly district of West Bengal. Besides regular bus service, you can also reach the place via car.

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The Ramakrishna Math
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The Durga Temple

As you approach the birthplace of the saint, you will come across several schools, guest houses and dispensaries constructed by Ramakrishna Mission for the upliftment of the locals. The guest houses are affordable, offering simple food and lodging. The best time to visit this place is during the ‘Kalpataru Utsav,’ which takes place every year during the first week of January; it is the celebration of the divine transformation of the Lord into a Kalpataru (magical tree) which has the power to grant all your good wishes.

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The Vishnu Temple
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The Deity of Lord Vishnu

The birthplace of Lord Ramakrishna is located within a complex, maintained by the Mission. The whole place is enveloped with peace and serenity; attain the evening aarti which is accompanied with melodious chants to rejuvenate your heart and soul. Among the other must visits are the ‘Haldar Pukur,’ the bathing ghat of the Lord and his family; the pond is also known as the ‘Choto Ganga,’ meaning the small Ganges.

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Choto Ganga

Visit the ‘Pathshala,’ the village school where Ramakrishna Dev used to study. Just opposite the small school lies the Durga Temple of the Laha family, the then zamindars of Kamarpukur. The nearby Vishnu Mandir was the seat of Ramakrishna, (known as Gadadhar that time) for painting pictures of Goddess Kali, escaping from his school. The guides accompany you to these places narrating the remarkable incidents of Ramakrishna Dev that took place at Kamarpukur.

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Pathshala

A blissful journey to Jairambati

Located just 6 kms from Kamarpukur is Jairambati, the birthplace of Sarada Devi. Jairambati is located at Kotulpur region of Bankura district. You can also be at Jairambati first and then at Kamarpukur, as there are lots of vans available at Jairambati which take you to Kamarpukur. Both these spots have safe parking facilities.

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The Hamlet of Peace
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The Simple Life

As you reach Jairambati, you get a glimpse of rustic village life of West Bengal. The thatched huts, the small ponds and the easy lifestyle of the locals enhance the beauty of your journey. Here also the birthplace and the house of Sarada Devi (which is a mud house with thatched roof) is looked after by the Mission. Prayers automatically come out of heart as you sit in front of the large serene statue of Ma Sarada. The whole complex is not only stunningly clean instead of having so many visitors day in and day out but is also impressive with bright, aromatic flowers.

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The Temple
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Floral Exhibition

Devotees do not miss to have ‘bhog’ here, a simple but delicious lunch of rice, vegetable curry, sweets and fruits. You have lot of souvenirs to buy here; be it the idols of Goddess Kali or rare photographs of Lord Ramakrishna and Ma Sarada. Do sip the steaming hot tea and savory sweets to get the real taste of Bengal.

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Yummy Sweets
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Religious Souvenirs
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Iron Utensils

Last but not the least; the visiting hours are stringent:

April to September:

6 am to 12.00 pm & 4 pm to 9 pm

October to March:

6.30 am to 11.30 am & 3.30 pm to 8.30 pm

Best Time to Visit: First Week of January which is the time for Kalpataru Utsav. 

Hence enjoy a weekend where a different facet of spirituality evolved; be at Kamarpukur and Jairambati.